Parental leave ‘kiss of death’ for female lawyers

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Taking parental leave is a career ‘kiss of death’ for women in law firms according to a new survey that found a huge 75% of respondents believe female lawyers who take the time out are less likely to make partner than those who don’t.
 
Some of the results of the 2014 InfoTrack/Janders Dean survey that was conducted last month certainly didn’t paint a pretty picture.
 
An overwhelming 85% of respondents believe there is scope within the industry to innovate in addressing gender diversity. One comment particularly captured the general consensus: “Australian firms often trumpet themselves as being good employers for women, [but] in reality roles taken by women have been the first to go when costs need to be managed.”
 
InfoTrack CEO Stephen Wood told Australasian Lawyer that he was surprised about how strong the perceptions in the profession were about women in the legal workplace.
 
“I have no doubt that some firms have in place the policies, practices and mind-set to promote talented women, but whatever the reality - the perception is strong that taking parental leave is the kiss of death for women aspiring to partnership,” he says.
 
“So if a firm is committed to nurturing their best and brightest through to partnership – including women who have taken parental leave - firms need to get a lot better at communicating this to their constituency including their own people, clients and the broader community.”
 
Wood adds that while many large companies have sophisticated programmes in place to identify and mentor talent through to the leadership of the organisation, he doesn’t think this is common practice in law firms.
 
The survey also looked at who may be perpetuating the problem, and found that partners could be partly to blame.
 
Firms’ lawyers are the least resistant to change (12.5%) in comparison to partners - a whopping 39.6% - and board/leadership/support staff (all at 14.5%).
 
“Change is generally not part of a partner’s DNA. They have reached the pinnacle of their careers by being excellent at what they do and generally always having the right answers,” Wood says.
 
“Partners also are acutely aware of the long hours and blood sweat and tears associated to make it to partner level. Often they will feel that women returning from maternity leave can no longer commit the hours required to be or maintain being a partner. So it has to be a very compelling case to get them to change.”
 
But the reality is that this problem is part of a much broader issue of gender equality that entire workplaces are struggling with, says Wood.
 
He points to yesterday’s announcement by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency that it will name and shame 3,000 companies in Australia that have not carried out formal assessments to identify pay discrepancies between male and female employees.
 
“In fact the gender pay gap is at a 20 year high of 18.2%. Female participation in the workforce is at an all-time low also because of the cost of childcare. These issues are all related and not just legal sector specific. They are endemic across the entire workplace and we as a community - from board level down - have to find ways to overcome gender bias.”
 
But it can’t be denied that there’s clearly not enough being done to reverse the statistics in law firms, Wood says.
 
He suspects that although there is a lot of rhetoric, there’s not so much of the ‘walking the talk’.
 
It’s a challenge that requires wholesale cultural change, which entails active championing from senior partners who are modelling the right behaviours, and ensuring the firm has the right policies, procedures and KPIs that translate into the changes people want to see.
 
“Staff will not believe the firm is committed to gender equality and to women aspiring to partnership unless they see it happening around them...
 
“That is, when they actually see women with children in partnership roles, and talented women who are encouraged to succeed despite their different needs, whether they be child-raising responsibilities, family commitments or their otherwise inability to be available 24/7.”
  • Dominique on 1/10/2014 11:04:39 AM

    2 comments: Firstly, I wonder if it is the taking of parental leave that is the kiss of death or whether part of it relates to the personality of the parent. A parent who does not take parental eave may be a particularly work driven, work devoted person and thus inherently more likely to make partner. Secondly, parental leave in my experience is often followed by a slow return to work (eg, initially part time on return). Each lawyer is a business in themselves - can you just shut down your business for the majority of a year, then come back initially doing part time work, and expect to be in the same position you were when you left? Of course not - you have lost your business in the meantime. You've lost the continuity of work and the client relationship. You have to effectively 'start again'. If we are going to talk about parental leave inequality in the workplace, lets start that discussion with parental leave for fathers - for the vast majority of men out there, parental leave = maternity leave.

  • Anna on 1/10/2014 11:09:56 AM

    This will always remain the case where success and promotion is measured and determined by billable hours worked rather than QUALITY of work. Someone can spend a lot of time doing nothing that adds value to a client's case and be more 'successful' than someone who spends less time but spends that time more intelligently and strategically. The entire business model is the problem.

  • JMK on 1/10/2014 11:29:49 AM

    I think the business model is the issue, but what is not discussed is all the non billable add on work that is required. If you have any responsibilities outside of the office you are going to struggle to meet the billable requirements, yet this issue is not addressed in any discussion or paper.

  • Louise Steer on 1/10/2014 11:55:55 AM

    This is the 21st century isn't it? As one of the first female lawyers to have children and return to practice, I can tell you it isn't easy but it can be done. And a law career isn't worth sacrificing parenthood if you want to be a parent. I never made partner. But I am the Principal of my own practice.

  • Paul B on 1/10/2014 6:23:33 PM

    JMK is on the right track. A large part of the problem is the business model that makes it so hard to qualify as a partner in the first place. That model needs to change.

  • William on 1/10/2014 9:15:57 PM

    Goodness gracious me! people want promotion when they have less experience and believe that simply because of their gender they are entitled to special consideration. If you want to make partner don't have children. If you don't have children you have a disadvantage because you got no-one to look after you when you're decrepit and old. This gender equality wish list of having your cake and eating it too....pleeeeeeeease. Every one's got the right to make a choice...live with it.

  • Lesley on 2/10/2014 8:22:16 AM

    I think the point is William, that men don't need to make a choice between having a family and becoming partner in a law firm. As one earlier commenter pointed out, it is not so much about getting a promotion as building a business. It is entirely possible for women to build a successful business or have a successful corporate career and have a family, it happens all the time in other sectors. From my observation it requires support and encouragement from their life partner and their work colleagues and clients. It's probably the case that law firms don't provide enough support, but it may be that life partners and clients don't either.

  • Amber on 2/10/2014 8:27:33 AM

    I have worked at firms where it has been said to me by childless female partners, no less, "You choose career or children. You can't have both". That was a very sad thing to hear in the 21st century. Why shouldn't women who have worked endless hours to build up a practice and contribute to a firm be rewarded with partnership even if they take time off to have children and return to work part-time. With the technology we have these days, practices can be run with part-time hours in the office. Sure, it's not easy and it takes commitment. But it can be done. As a mum of a 2 and 6 year old who has worked part-time for the past 5 years, I made partner in Sydney CBD practice. I was lucky enough to find a firm that rewarded hard work and acknowledged contribution. I know many other Partner Mums like myself. It is sad to see some firms still living in the dark ages.

  • Dominique on 2/10/2014 10:35:43 AM

    To those saying the business model is the problem, it seems to be forgotten that the business model for this and any other 'business' (as opposed to charity) is to make money. The more money you can make for the business the more valuable you are. Once it can be seen that either you will further add monetary value to the business by being made partner, or you are a genuine threat of leaving and competing with the current partners for business, then the partnership offer will come.
    The offer will be made whether or not you have children/have had maternity leave because the only test is your current and future monetary value to the firm.
    If you have a staff management role in a business selling sprockets there is a good chance having some time off for maternity won't affect your value to the business - you can come back and pick up exactly where you left off because there may not be an immediate correlation between the hours of work you put in and the cash coming in to the business.
    But if you are a lawyer, needing to maintain client relationships and keeping up with what is happening on a day to day basis, taking a long leave of absence will take quite a while to recover from. By the time you come back the clients who have stayed with the firm are embedded with other lawyers; and other clients will have left and forgotten who you are. I suspect it would be a similar scenario for medical GPs in private practice - all their patients would go somewhere else and the doctor would have to start again in building their practice.

  • Allie on 2/10/2014 10:55:33 AM

    Most points made are good (William excepted - you've missed the point mate and are part of the problem) but I know of actual examples where partners have said to women who are striving for promotion and happen to have or want children or are pregnant to 'not worry about promotion, you won't be interested in work for a while, think about it in a few years'. Huh? Women who get such treatment and comments are having their decisions made for them, usually by a man who has a wife at home to take care of his children. Biologically, women have to have some time off after having a child - but it is their choice as to how much and certainly their choice as to pursuing partnership or other promotion. If they've achieved the same level as another person and done the hard yards, then partnership is deserved, regardless of someone else's perception of their personal life or whether they are pregnant or not. Of course things might slow down for a while if a woman (or man!) takes time off for a year (full allowance) but it shouldn't hamper them long term so that they never become a partner - it just might take a little longer. Absolutely amazing that an industry that is now at least 50% women is still dominated by the old boys at the top (some of whom aren't so old and should know better).

  • William on 2/10/2014 12:36:50 PM

    Dear Allie,

    defamation indeed "Most points made are good (William excepted - you've missed the point mate and are part of the problem"

    The clear point is that you cant have it all.

    I have helped quite a number of female lawyers get promoted but have never received the reciprocation. You see, its feminism that has created inequality. It why I can't get a show in a government job - some departments are over 80% women still screaming about inequality. Goodness gracious me..

    Allie you're trying to lead others up a blind Allie. The real serious point about being out of the workforce for a substantial period of time is that your experience becomes out-dated. That's why women who leave the workforce aren't given partnerships. They abandon their career for their family. They put the employer at risk of losing income. They could choose not to have a family then they would get partner.

    by the way, if a man takes time off like you say, that man's partnership prospects are reduced too....don't lead us up a blind Allie

    Women and feminists need to stop believing that everyone owes them a living based on their gender.

  • Scott on 8/10/2014 12:46:44 PM

    It is easy for women to "fix" the problem, they have the power - equality of outcome for separating fathers - ie 50% of the time the kids live with the father - SOLVED, men will be just a likely to have caring responsibilities & need time off work, etc - EQUALITY in practice (equality of outcome)... the problem is that feminists don't want to give up anything to achieve equality.

    If you think no woman would give up "her" children - this is the price for Diana, Kate & Mary

  • Louise Steer on 8/10/2014 2:02:14 PM

    Scott, why do you assume divorce is the only solution for parental care while maintaining a career? If a man cares for his children while still married, divorce won't be an issue. This is why I'm still married after 32 years. We shared the childcare which enabled both of us to maintain our careers.

  • Rebecca on 8/10/2014 3:59:38 PM

    Progression for all employees should be a business decision based on the individual's contribution, future prospects and business needs.

    I take this article to be saying that many people go beyond making a business decision. Instead, decisions are made based on certain assumptions that are outdated and irrelevant.

    I wonder if women's progression slow down even earlier, such as when she is approaching what others believe is an appropriate "child-bearing age"?

    William: you say you helped females get promoted and never received reciprocation. I'm curious about that comment. I have been helping a junior person to develop their skills so they progress - a male - but I would help be they male or female. It also develops me. I only expect "reciprocation" to come from the boss. Is that what you mean by reciprocation? Also, have you ever helped males to get promoted, and if yes, did you receive reciprocation from those males?

    Dominique - I agree parental leave for fathers should be available. I can imagine that many men must feel they are missing out on the opportunity to spend that time to bond with their child. I would definitely want my husband to enjoy that experience when the time comes.

  • William on 9/10/2014 10:58:14 PM

    Dear Rebecca,

    I rebutted allie's defamation and supported the rebuttal by demonstrating that I have assisted females in gaining promotions (one was made 3CEO due to my support).

    Yes I have gained reciprocation and support from males. Females seem to forget the assistance that I have given them but they have no hesitation in seeking me out for advice etc.

    Females have been brainwashed by feminism too much and feel that they are entitled merely because of their gender. To that extent they look after their own first; there re the occasional exception. The large government departments filled with a high proportion of women attest to that.

  • Scott on 10/10/2014 1:58:58 PM

    Louise,

    I don't assume that divorce is the only solution - it is only part of the solution, but it does create a statistic that can't be ignored by employers - with expectations that men do more of the caring whilst the parties are together, why does it all stop when parties separate?

    I'm glad that you are still married after so long (so few are these days), but the father's involvement in child care prior to divorce has no impact on the post divorce arrangements or even if there is continuing contact between father and children...

  • Rebecca on 13/10/2014 12:37:13 PM

    William, I think you are just experiencing dealing with some people who are ungrateful rather than appreciative- men can also be that way. You just haven't experienced it. Please don't just give up on women because of your experiences :)

  • Scott on 13/10/2014 4:41:38 PM

    Lesley,

    and what choices do men have? What happens when you approach an employer about family friendly hours, spending more time with the kids, etc... Men also have no choice, do you really think men want to be doing 70+ hours a week just to "get ahead"? Society expectations indeed...

  • Dave on 16/10/2014 4:18:44 PM

    I don't think this is a matter of howling about "feminism". Over half of the entrants to the profession are female, very few make it to partnership in national firms.
    There are a lot of factors contributing to that and ad hominem attacks on anyone asking why is not overly helpful IMHO.
    Beyond the points already made by commenters I think the following can be added:
    Firstly, Partnership in BigLaw can be a pretty toxic lifestyle. A few months off the treadmill and a bit of perspective will convince most rational humans of either gender that a salaried partnership position is not worth the personal sacrifices involved.
    Secondly, few males are prepared to make the adjustments required to support a female on that track. For both parents to work those sort of hours is not usually feasible, even with a lot of outside support. (I was prepared to do that, but it has not been straight forward. I started my own practice and worked part time which is not exactly easy). A male asking for paternity leave is usually (tacitly) told to grow some b**s if they want more than a fortnight.
    Whether or not "always available" or pathological presenteeism & monster billings is what really makes an effective leader in a law firm is not really the point. That is what gets you the gold star in the current environment. To a large degree, it is mutually exclusive with being a committed parent.
    Good news for the next generatoin of females though, according to a growing number of commentators BigLaw's number is up in its current form (read "Tomorrow's lawyers" by Richard Susskind) and what comes next may reward innovative thinking and results for the client, not just the firm.

  • Jessica Henderson on 16/10/2014 6:33:51 PM

    I think William makes a good point when he says that men would also be penalised for taking leave. I suspect that men taking substantial parental leave might in fact be penalised more than women, because they would be perceived as lazy/weak.

    My husband and I have discussed having children, and we have concluded that it would not require me to take very much leave at all, provided he was willing to take the bulk of the early childhood responsibilities. That is our choice, and we don't impose it on others. It will probably mean bottle-feeding our children which is something that has shocked my friends. Elective bottle-feeding so I can go back to work!!! Shock - horror - amazement. And some have told me that I'm wrong about wanting to go back to work and I'll see the light when I hold my first child. For all I know, they may be right. But I'll be surprised!

    I have been shocked by how negative the feedback is when I tell my friends that I am planning on having children then returning to work almost immediately and letting my husband be the primary care giver. Often they ask me "how does he feel about giving up his career so you can pursue yours?" I'm curious about how many men get that question when their wives leave work to be child-carers for them.

    When men have children they return to work and have a cosy family to come home to at the end of the very long day. They still make partner. Why should anyone disapprove of my husband and I wanting to follow the same model but with the gender roles reversed?

    Having said all that, it seems a shame that only those who give priority to work over family become equity partners in law firms. It does explain a lot about the mechanics of the big firms, however!

  • william on 17/10/2014 10:43:33 PM

    Dear Rebecca,

    I havent "given up" on women and I am currently mentoring some females through studies and in their own careers.

    The points I have been making are that there are those who want an easy ride and think that they are entitled to benefits simply because of their gender.

    It is clear that the wish ist f parental leave etc is at the expense of childless couple, singles and gays who pay for the medical educational and other by way of taxes.

    Singles are particularly disadvantaged as these days it takes two incomes to purchase a unit or house.

  • william on 17/10/2014 10:46:40 PM

    There is a presumption that females discriminated against more than males. This impropaganda pushed by feminists has been discussed in the NSW Law Society Journal (Nov 2011?) where the writer concludes that "hardworking males over 50 years of age" are the most discriminated persons in the workplace.

  • John Smith on 24/10/2014 12:38:58 PM

    If you think that taking parental leave is the career kiss of death for female lawyers, you should try taking parental leave as a male! I've twice taken a year off following the birth of both my children (something that I would never regret under any circumstances) but it has left my career in tatters.

  • Philip on 31/10/2014 11:48:26 AM

    As amusing as this discussion is, will you all please get back to work, or you are fired! and work out which matter to bill your comments to.

  • Anne on 3/11/2014 8:19:14 AM

    You can make partner and have children, I did. However, I suspect it would be hard to be a partner by working part time and not putting in the hours. To have the client base necessary requires major effort to be put in both on billable and non billable work. Interesting how many people think they deserve to be made partner just for turning up a few days a week and doing good quality work. We all do good work, it's about going the extra mile and building the client relationships.
    We all have to make choices about the sort of life we want to lead and all choices have consequences. Having said that children tend to fit in around your lifestyle. Mine are grown up now and didn't know any other way than the life we had. While they were little they stayed up very late so we could spend time with them and had a massive sleep at day care in the middle of the day. They spent alot of time at work playing in the conference rooms and as they got older doing their homework. It's not for everyone but worked for us. Having said that, not sure law is the first profession I would encourage a woman who wants children to go into. I am sure there are far more family friendly things to do.

  • Scott on 3/11/2014 4:14:50 PM

    Thank you Anne, at last some common sense.

  • william on 5/11/2014 6:30:06 PM

    Its surprising how the quality of submissions increases once the fundamentalist feminist propaganda is removed.

  • Peta on 20/11/2014 2:41:46 AM

    Professional legal practice is simply a modern form of slavery. It is a business that sells time - lawyers are the widgets and the machinery that produces the widgets. The truth is that if you can get away with running yr machinery 24/7 - legal businesses will do so - that extra 4-5 hrs a day is unpaid and pure profit - no business is going to give that up- let's just not dress it up as something it is not 'a profession' - it is indentured labour

  • Future Partner on 22/03/2015 10:30:52 PM

    It's a given that it will be harder to remain relevant to your firm and clients the longer you're away. But if you work hard and have support you can do it and do it well. I intend to. And if I fail to meet my target accomplishments I will have no one and nothing to blame but myself.
    Love Phillip's comments.

  • Peter walsh on 23/03/2015 5:09:05 PM

    People make choices,some good some not so good. Children and work are a tricky mix, do we want a good work place or a sweat shop? Firms use client demands as a tool to get staff to work often unreasonable hours, someone sometime has to say enough is enough. Perhaps female partners could be the first to draw the line and lead us all, male and female, to take proper leave from work. It is a choice we all make every day, if your firm is to survive then I think the first thing partners need to do is be realistic, their is no choice between looking after your children and keeping unreasonable deadlines for unreasonable clients and partners of law firms. If your employed solicitors are good, keep them, but surely use a better yardstick than leave to look after their kids.

  • Lauren on 1/06/2015 9:38:55 AM

    Why are men so threatened by feminists? The moment a woman opens her mouth and says, "hey being a "good" lawyer and having a family is hard!" there is without a doubt one man who accuses her of being an annoying feminist who wants to milk the system at the expense of men! It's laughable. All people are saying is that the demands of corporate law are hard and sometimes impossible for people in general. Also, since nature dictates that women give birth to children etc. this burden can fall unequally on women (not all the time but many times). Law is stuck in the past - requiring unwavering dedication that a man with a stay at home wife could do in the 1950s but now the world is changing and law firms need to change and embrace a more flexible environment that is inclusive of men and women and different backgrounds. Eventually, clients will start to demand this of their lawyers as the legal market increasingly becomes a buyers market. Also, i'd like to add that there are currently more female lawyers graduating from law school so this isn't a feminist argument anymore - it is an argument about how the needs and expectations of lawyers are changing and the requirement that law firms begin to respond appropriately.

  • Scott on 1/06/2015 9:16:48 PM

    hi Lauren,
    Welcome to the discussion,
    exactly which comment points to men being threatened by feminists?

  • Zoe on 3/06/2015 12:25:26 PM

    I have been on the recruitment committee at a law firm for several years. The outstanding candidates in all aspects (academic, interview skills and performance in clerkships) are women. The law firms that continue current practices and fail to progress the careers of these talented women will struggle to compete with the firms that do. Those who complain about feminist propaganda are ignoring good business practice.

  • Pat on 3/06/2015 2:29:11 PM

    Sadly Lauren I can understand any man, who on reading your post, shakes his head in wonder and I do not mean favourably.

  • Louise Steer on 3/06/2015 3:53:22 PM

    I have to leap back in again at some of these comments. We have women who are all successful and have found different ways to accomodate work, children and achievement in their careers. So don't tell us it can't be done! The men here complaining about feminists, childcare, who say it can't be done, must be scared of women showing them up. Think constructively and we can all go home at a reasonable hour and play with the kids. Or just play if that's what you want. No use earning if you have no time to spend it!

  • William on 5/06/2015 5:09:56 PM

    When I did jurisprudence at university we studied the critical legal school which achieved its goals by simply criticizing without justification.
    Feminists certainly do so and to this extent their immoral means of argument is what makes them repugnant too many women and men. For instance, feminism pursues men and is quick to advertise violence in the home perpetrated by men but feminisim never raises the violence in the home perpetrated by women (namely that 86% of violence against children in the home is caused by women - Australia Bureau of Statistics)
    Now in Family Law the significant element in the decision making of the court focusses on the best interests of the child. What is missing in all the pro women arguments is clearly what constitutes the best interests of the child that they are raising.
    The feminist grab for money has been put at the forefront of the feminist argument but the best interests of the child means that money needs to be taken off the agenda at some point.
    A women that is seeking to get a mansion to live in and pursues the money goal at the expense of her child is clearly not making the best decision. In any case it would be better off for the child to live in reasonable rented accommodation and receive the 100% quality nurturing that it deserves in preference to being told to play in the office while mummy plays with the bosses' computers and client.
    Feminism complains about the lack of senior executive lawyers. It does not complain about the high proportion of women government lawyers where men don't get a look in. Women have chosen government and other lawyers jobs on the basis that these positions allow them to have flexible hours and provide them with an opportunity to look after the best interests of the child. It could be argued that the most responsible women would be the best candidates for the Senior Executives but then... the most responsible women would be putting the interests of the child before their own. In any case the Family unit, the loved ones, are always more important than the bosses.
    Feminism's arguments are lacking in substance when children are involved. The reality of a Senior Executive career is that it requires 70 hours per week commitment but caring for a child requires much more than 70 hours per week
    The insistence that law firms change to meet the requirement of family at all levels of employment is not a realistic one. It is clear that client attention especially during litigation requires immediacy and not allocated times for work to be done. For instance, a barrister in the midst of a case needs to be on top of the game and as such works to all hours of the night and morning in order to be prepared. If the barrister is required only to work allocated hours it is clear that the clients interests would be affected as the barrister would not be prepared properly for the case.
    No, the law is not stuck in the past, its requirements are a reality just as changing nappies is a reality. Parent's work is not stuck in the past due to dirty nappies....
    Much of the work in government or legal transactional work does not require the same kinds of immediacy as litigation and has already acquired sufficient flexibility to allow family interest a more than fair go. In these areas clients can be choosy in selecting their firms but when it affects clients own interests they don't want parent barrister indicating that he/she needs to look after sick child the day before the case.
    It is always an argument that the best interests of the child are preferred to those of the parent.

  • William on 5/06/2015 5:23:09 PM

    Dear Zoe,

    I am astonished at the following comment made by you:

    "The outstanding candidates in all aspects (academic, interview skills and performance in clerkships) are women"

    Had that comment been made by a man about women the reaction that would have been brought about by the feminists would have be huge. Men are on the other hand more reserved and let some things run off their backs like water on the back of a duck.

    It is a clear example of your personal bias and your failure to absorb the neutral comments in this blog.

    Yes, all the women that YOU see are the most outstanding...hmmm. That should speak for itself. I believe that you've embarrassed yourself. In the words of Effie...How embarrassment!!!!

    Your comment clearly demonstrates the reverse gender bias that men have been subjected to and which goes unnoticed,. It also explains how men seem to be in the low percentages in lots of government jobs.

    If you'd taken notice of the statistics previously provided in this blog you would also had that women are the most likely to bully others in the workplace and are most likely to bully their own children at home.

    The attitude and gender traits of prospective employees should be taken into account as well. It seems that your recruitment style has likely caused your corporation to deveop into one of those horrible cultures that are found in for instance the Teachers of NSW.

    I'm glad to see at least you're honest in your statements but it certainly is more an indication of your assessment technique rather than the real quality of your candidates.

    Most neutral people wouldn't agree with your assessment.

  • Louise Steer on 9/06/2015 12:42:53 PM

    William, that's misogynistic sophistry. Women should take government jobs because it's better set up for them with sick children? Oh Please! I was a barrister for 10 years and had appropriate child care arrangements during court hours, no problem. The problem was male barristers organising meetings out of childcare hours or at a moment's notice. They did this on purpose so I couldn't come. I foiled them - my husband would meet me and take the kid back to his work. Sometimes other lawyers would help out, one of my opponents even got his daughters to help one day when the judge called a snap hearing. No one minded. But that was 26 years ago. Why have men not moved on? And if childcare is such an issue, why do experienced older women have trouble even getting job interviews, let alone jobs? Misogyny is the answer to all this. Men prefer hiring younger women because they think they can push them around more, then resent them getting pregnant. And they don't like older women because they are too much like their wives and see through their nonsense. It's the 21st century, we have laws enforcing parental leave rights and women no longer have to prove themselves. Women are here to stay in the legal profession, get over it!

  • scott on 10/06/2015 10:50:02 AM

    Louise,
    I think you misunderstand William, he was complaining that men couldn't get those jobs, that women were getting them ahead of men, not that it was the most suitable for them...

    I also think that women have many more choices than men, including in the profession and that is why they don't go on to be partners - they simply don't want to.

    As a sole parent father i experienced significant bias against me, at law school and in looking for work - I didn't even get an interview for those government jobs.

    As for parental leave = AKA mother's leave, the father is left out - despite research concluding the benefit, e.g. in Norway.

    Louise, I suspect that barristers and judges don't do it on purpose, noting others in the profession helped you - but they simply don't care about your individual circumstances. For example, I was required to file a client affidavit an response (child matter) despite the Family Court and my office being closed over Christmas - Judge didn't care that both client and I had care of children during that time, that client was working and that school and child care were closed - was that discrimination, was it fair, was it reasonable? must have been deliberate bias against me because I am a woman - oh wait...

    I suspect that the females complaining are looking to blame anyone and anything else, except themselves.

    I have chosen not to work 70+ hours and i accept that i will not become a partner because of that - I completely ignore the discrimination that is occurring in Family Law - when was the last time you saw a firm hiring a male to work in family law? (most men I deal with own their own firm).

    I suspect it isn't because men aren't applying, but because of decisions being made by people such as Zoe.

    Now feminists - what benefit from the gendered system are you prepared to give up to achieve equality?

  • William on 13/06/2015 5:06:04 PM

    “William, that's misogynistic sophistry. Women should take government jobs because it's better set up for them with sick children?”
    Defamation again. And to place ens rea of women hating on my words. A barrister of tenyears wouldn’t do that
    “Oh Please! I was a barrister for 10 years and had appropriate child care arrangements during court hours, no problem. “
    In family law matters men rarely get custody of children because they are at work and the Court makes determinations on the best interests of the child.
    “The problem was male barristers organising meetings out of childcare hours or at a moment's notice. They did this on purpose so I couldn't come. I foiled them - my husband would meet me and take the kid back to his work.”
    You want it held out on a spoon when in those days, not too long ago, the lack of technology made lawyers slaves to the hardcover requirement of knowledge access. Hours were controlled not only be court time but by who had access to library both public and private. Is there some reason you don’t mention those things that are adverse to your feminist position and that you need to find a way to blame men?
    “Sometimes other lawyers would help out, one of my opponents even got his daughters to help one day when the judge called a snap hearing. No one minded. But that was 26 years ago”
    The kids would have minded.
    “ Why have men not moved on? And if childcare is such an issue, why do experienced older women have trouble even getting job interviews, let alone jobs? Misogyny is the answer to all this. “
    What’s the term for hating men? Miseanthropy? What a defamatory comment especially since you haven’t addressed the statistics provided in the blog so far.
    “Men prefer hiring younger women because they think they can push them around more, then resent them getting pregnant. And they don't like older women because they are too much like their wives and see through their nonsense.”
    My statistics reveal that is women that are known bullies and the more women in the workplace then the more likelihood that bullying occurs. Please provide evidence instead of defamation.
    “ It's the 21st century, we have laws enforcing parental leave rights and women no longer have to prove themselves. Women are here to stay in the legal profession, get over it!”
    “get over it”. So far no evidence has been provided and yet your response merely alleges withut substance that men are somehow to blame for everything.
    If you want real results something needs to be done about the rampant bullying on others perpetrated by women. I have provided substantial assistance to bullied persons but one particular female stated to me:
    “men have got nothing on women when it comes to bullying” She related then a story about a former female boss who confided that she as boss made it a goal to make each woman in the workplace cry at least once. She stated that the boss succeeded…

  • Anna on 15/06/2015 10:53:23 AM

    Laws against discrimination mean nothing because they are practically unenforceable. Unless you have a 'smoking gun' it is a 'he-said' - 'she-said' debate and the victim has to initiate the proceedings personally. Business insurers subrogate and defend the proceedings. Damages are minimal even if proven. If anyone brings a claim they will never get another job. Settlement - if it occurs - is always on the basis of confidentiality so there is complete ignorance in the wider community of these practices. The upshot is that there is ZERO incentive for change of culture within law firms and within the wider Australian business community. Tell your daughters that they need to learn the skills to be self-employed because Australian firms and businesses will (more often than not) chew them up and spit them out. Speak to any employment lawyer and you'll get the real picture. Anyone who denies it's a problem is either male or very fortunate. I have seen the sanity, the marriages, the futures and the fortunes of female lawyers and other female professionals destroyed by the actions of 'reputable' firms and companies.

  • william on 22/06/2015 5:33:29 PM

    Its clear to see the extreme feminists don't have any restrictions on inciting hate against men.

    Anna states" Anyone who denies it's a problem is either male or very fortunate"

    Zoe states "The outstanding candidates in all aspects (academic, interview skills and performance in clerkships) are women"

    I would direct those of you who have access to the NSW law Society Journal and consider the article by Nicola Gates on the issue of multi-tasking.

    It is an observable fact that from time to time jobs have been advertised requiring the applicant to be adept at multi-tasking and in this was many women have won jobs at the expense of men who for the most part don't multi-task. Feminists have seen an advantage in promoting women on the basis of their multi-tasking abilities and I suspect that Zoe has done this kind of thing being a recruitment consultant.

    The pendulum swung back a long way when it was discovered by research that multi-tasking is a disadvantage and that those who do it make many errors.

    The extreme feminist push to have multi-tasking accepted as an employers assessment toll for applicant now means that Applicants can be selected on the basis that they don't multi-task. (I have seen an advertisement for a job in the last few months doing just that...)

    Its clear that the extreme feminists have got it wrong because their modus operandi is to lash out at men no matter what.

    I do draw your attention that the gender difference in men and women is somewhat demonstrated in the funds raising by men for women's illnesses; by observation I have not seen the same response from women for men's illnesses.

    As for returning to the original discussion on choices for women in the workplace it is always clear that the best interests of the child come first So those who choose to deprive their children of time are not acting in the best interests of the child. There are those of course who need to work extra hours due to impecunity that is quite a different matter for those who choose to work because they love their work more than they love their child.

    If you have the opportunity you should view a documentary by Shand QC made sometime in the 1990's and see him grieve for the loss of time with family as he unrelentingly chased the dollar because he loved his work. He made millions of dollars every year but never thought of reducing his work load until it was far too late. His family suffered due to his absence.

    Women with good sense chase government jobs because it allows them greater flexibility in accommodating their children. They can change to part-time school friendly hours and can seek parental leave etc.

    Feminism places the women first at the expense of the child. The views of the community does not agree with feminism and as such laws reflect the need to seek the interests of the child before the mother and father.

    One of our greatest legists once said " you can not serve two masters. You will end up favouring one or the other" In the case of parents they are the servants of their children. The excuses from feminist mothers about placing an equal priority on their careers does not wash with the greater community. Careers come second to children. Children are here to stay, get over it!"



  • Louise Steer on 23/06/2015 12:05:32 PM

    Ah William. You are confusing many issues here. Shand QC is a highly commercially successful MAN. Presumably he left parenting to his wife while he paid the bills. This male careerist attitude is not at all comparable to the situation of working women lawyers, who are able to balance looking after their children with their work commitments. If women want a government job, they can apply for it. But these are not safe and secure sinecures with the constant government cuts these days. And why shouldn't women, like men, work in the fields that interest them? As for looking after children, Quentin Bryce, Mary Gaudron and Daphne Kok all got to the top of the profession and all have FIVE children each. They are not the only ones. How did they do it? Great time management skills. They simply get more done at work in a short time so they can go home. If men tried this, they too would be happier and could spend more time with their children. If that's what they really want. As for me, my own children are adults now and still want to live at home with their parents. We can't have been too neglectful, even though we both worked full time through their childhoods. I have already described our time and task management practices that enabled my husband and I to do this successfully. Worked for us. The great irony is that now I work for myself because as an older woman, no one will hire me, even though my child rearing time is well and truly over. Now the excuse is I am too senior so I would be bored in a less demanding job. No, it's simply because as an older woman, I remind male partners of their wives. They prefer their little harem fantasies and hire younger women they like to have around but never intend to promote. They want handmaidens, not partners. So children are not the barrier to hiring or even promotion they are portrayed as. Prejudice and discrimination are the barriers women continue to face.

  • Nikita Robertson on 30/06/2015 10:23:15 AM

    What a great debate this is. For me, coming to it late and reading all the comments at once, what leaps out at me is that the current BigFirm model for law firms is inhuman (for ambitious lawyers who's goal is partner) whether you are a male or female. Add children into the mix and the partnership goal will become impossible for one or both parents. This is what needs to be addressed. And yes, historically and currently the parent that the goal becomes impossible for is the female, but to get this situation changed maybe we can put that aside, I feel its muddying the waters of the main problem here. Its not fair that women miss out on opportunity because of their children or perceived future child bearing and its not fair that men miss out on opportunity because they dare to take paternity leave. Both are equally bad. ps. I identify proudly as a feminist. pps. Philip you are a crackup.

  • William on 30/06/2015 5:36:16 PM

    Louise Steer states: “You are confusing many issues here”.


    Quite clearly I am not "confusing" many issues; if I was they would have been identified. The statement is merely the beginning of a defamatatory response that continues throughout Louise's blog.


    Louise states: “This male careerist attitude...”


    Nobody knows what a "male careerist attitude" means except that its used to put Alec Shand QC in a box to stigmatise him and to stifle the argument. More defamation... Clearly any one who has seen the documentary will know that it is a heartfelt piece of advice for people who place their family second to their career.


    I draw your attention to Lisa Wilkinson's article in the recent Womens Weekly where she exposes the "fundamentalist feminist attitude”. Lisa Wilkinson’s article supports Alec Shand. Both the documentary and the article would be a useful resource anybody considering a career at the expense of their children.



    Louise states: “...not at all comparable to the situation of working women lawyers who are able to balance looking after their children with their work commitments”


    There are no balancing looking after children with their work commitments. That is clearly rebutted by Lisa Wilkinson and by a realistic view of life. Children require 24/7 care and to take that time from the child and give to an employer needs a good reason...Impecunity. Fundamentalist feminists have for too long misrepresented the position of child nuturing to their own ends. It is clear that Feminists have no real argument and therefore they rely almost exclusively on defamation and duress to impose their views.

    I draw to your attention, the female bloggists who have contributed so far refer to the difficulty of rearing children whilst working. Louise on the other hand, endeavours to say that she was able to balance career and child raising....the evidence quite clearly reveals by comparison that she is not a credible witness. Her inferences are that women can balance and men can't; other women aren't telling the same story.



    Yes women can apply for government jobs and they get more favourable treatment than men as they rely on affirmative action to such an extent that a 50/50 ratio of men to women in work place is irrelevant. You will find many 80/20 work place ratios of women to men. Significant workplace discrimination against men.



    No job is safe and secure; the attraction of a government job is its “family friendliness”; part-time school hours jobs are great for women and families.


    Louise states:



    “and why shouldn’t women like men work in fields that interest them”



    Quite simply, when it is not in the best interests of the child. (Note: how the inference of Louise's statement is that men are saying that women should not work in fields that interest them; I can't see that anyone in these blogs has said anything to that effect)


    Louise states:



    “As for looking after children, Quentin Bryce, Mary Gaudron and Daphne Kok all got to the top of the profession and all have FIVE children each”


    (Just quickly, Quentin Bryce is a bad example of the point that you want to make...please read up on the Heiner Affair)


    Louise's statement is merely evidence that the women became successful in careers....it does not establish that the women did not neglect the children. Much more detail is required.



    The Women’s Weekly argument decimates many fundamentalist feminist assumptions. The article exposes how successful women have neglected their children and Wilkinson provides some fine examples of the belligerent behaviour of these child neglecting successfull career women.


    In addition, the raising of FIVE children whilst pursuing a career as you infer raising the real suspicion of neglect...the raising of that many children supports that there was neglect of the child by the successful woman. Unlike Lisa Wilkinson, Louise has not provided any details about the raising of the children and seeks merely to make mileage of the fact that they brought five into the world and had career success. The Fundamentalist feminist approach quite clearly focusses on the career results instead of the child rearing results. Wilkinson’s article decimates that kind of misrepresentation as she provides details of the misbehaviour of career successful women.



    Louise's time management argument falls apart as she asserts that only women get work done in the shortest time. Does the defamation and discourtesy ever cease?) Certainly no evidence to support that biased point of view has been presented. It is clear that there are men and woman who work hard at their jobs. It is also clear that there are many others at work who don't work hard - that applies to both genders. On the basis of the multi-tasking finding outlined in the Law Society Journal, it is likely that women make more mistakes in their work than men. Non-multitaskers focus on their work to ensure that it is accurate and therefore they tend not to rush off before the errors are reduced to the least possible.



    The "time management” issue on Louise relies is certainly no defence to failing to act in a child’s best interests. First of all, children need parental care and availabilty on a 24/7 basis . It is clear that there is a sacrifice by the child of the hours owed to to him or her so that the parent can spend time with the boss. No matter how someone claims to “manage” their parental lifestyle, it certainly hasn’t been with the consent of the child, but, it has been at the parent's convenience .



    Louise refers to shared responsibilities for her convenience. It has been the norm for years and to date I haven't found an expert who would agree that the best role model for child nurturing is other than one parent staying at home and the other bringing in the income. When the female in the relationship chooses to be the income earner, then the bonding with the child is broken and altered. Children learn to abandon relationships and that is carried into later life. Children go through many phases and issues in their own lives and to have one constant parent available or even present is an entitlement of the child and positively affects the child’s psychology and view of life. Instead the successful career woman chooses not to be available for the child and chooses instead to be available for the clients, bosses and other.


    Louise states:



    “The great irony is that now I work for myself because as an older women, no one will hire me”.


    Its not because you are an older “woman” its because you are old. Men are much more discriminated against due to their age. Elder discrimination is an issue that applies to both men and women. (Note: The way that Louise presents her argument infers that it doesn't happen to men; this method further defames men.)


    Louise states:



    “No, its simply because as an older woman, I remind male partners of their wives.”


    I draw your attention to the many women's magazines that have had articles on how difficult it is for a women to be a mother, lover, friend, employee, etc. The magazines refer to the difficulty to transition from one role to another; they know its an issue and they extend sympathy to women. There are women who go to work and can't transition into the legal professional role. Those women cause turmoil in an office just as much as an "ocker" or "bimbo" in a highly professional office. There is a need to protect the office cultural identity in the top tier firms and other. To that extent firms in the top tier realm rarely employ legal professionals who haven't commenced their careers in that background or who don't come from the "correct" school. It is clear that firms are entitled to assess whether of not a person coming to the firm fits the workplace culture.


    Louise states:



    "They prefer little harem fantasies and hire younger women.."


    There are statistics that show that beautiful people have a 15% advantage over those who aren't so beautiful when it comes to employment. That goes for both men and women. (I can tell you anecdotes of women sleeping with CEO women to get a job but this forum is not the place.) The point is that it does not only apply to men; on that basis Louise continues to defame men.



    Louise's blog has no evidence to establish her claims, it does contain a litany of discourtesy and defamation directed towards men and can quite clearly incite hatred against men.


    I draw to your attention that there are many women who become successful. On that basis it is clear that there is no discrimination in the form espoused by the fundamentalist feminists. What is clear is that these feminsists have misrepresented the real situation for many years. Historically they have attacked women who have sought to be mothers. The feminists were their most abusive during the 60's 70's and 80's. As you can see by the fundamentalist feminists blogs, they don't change and they are not interested in placing the child's interests first. They want to have it all...clearly they can't



    Upon a perusal of the Lisa Wilkinson article, it will be discovered that there is a revolting misbehaviour of one of the successful career women (CEO at PepsiCo) in her treatment of her daughter raising the issue of the mothers non-attendance at a school function...


    Women are entitled to be fully and fairly informed ; the fundamentalist feminist approach amounts to misrepresentation and lies. To rely on that kind of approach will only see damage done to families and children.

  • Scott on 1/07/2015 8:05:31 AM

    Louise,

    your comments prove William is correct,
    "Its clear that the extreme feminists have got it wrong because their modus operandi is to lash out at men no matter what."

    and here you are lashing out at his comments... you might want to re-read his comments and those of Nikita above.

    as for discrimination - if i am advertising for a position, i can indicate it is only for women, only for aboriginal people, only for people from a non english speaking background OR any other group except one... for a white australian male. How is that not discrimination?

    The gendered system has advantages and disadvantages, the "equality" system has advantages and disadvantages - but they are not the same - they are a zero sum game - advantages for women are the disadvantages for women - hence my question...

    what are women prepared to give up to achieve equality? Louise?

  • Tammy on 3/07/2015 2:36:27 PM

    Oh dear, it appears that the argument is becoming "if there is inequality in the workplace it is the fault of women [insert broad-brush statement about women = fundamentalist feminists who are discriminating against men]". One can always count on internet commenters in an article about disadvantages faced by women hand-wringing "but what about the men?!?!?!?!"

    What should women be "giving up" to achieve equality? Isn't the entire point of this article that women are already disadvantaged by virtue of their gender, and your solution is that they "give up" more in order to be taken seriously? This is not constructive towards changing the culture of large (and in my experience, small) law firms insofar as it pertains to women. Changing the culture to be less hostile to women is not mutually exclusive with changing the culture to accommodate the needs of men also - it is NOT a zero sum game!

  • Scott on 4/07/2015 10:59:13 AM

    hi Tammy,

    welcome to the discussion.

    you have misunderstood and misrepresented my comments. I did not say that any inequality in the workplace is the fault of women (or feminists). You must understand that society and its standards will impact on the culture of an organisation.

    i disagree that the feminist approach of "everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others" is the way forward.

    As i previously said both a gendered system and a system based on equality have advantages and disadvantages. Your comments appear to suggest that a half way point of women having the benefits of both systems is the appropriate course - with respect I disagree.

    As a simple example - I was abused on one day for holding the door open for a woman and called sexist, etc. The next day i was abused for not holding the door open for the same woman, (with many of the same comments repeated) - while this was in 1985, the situation remains the same - why? why should I have to put up with it?

    In the 1960's women campaigned and won the right to decide when or if they became a mother. When did men get the right to choose if they become a father? Presently, the women decides and the man has no choice, but worse if he disagrees with her decision, he either spends the next 18 years paying child support, or he is denied the opportunity to be a father - in both cases, the man is expected to pay for the woman's choice... that is another benefit of a gendered system - would you like to give that up? noting that the international treaty requires both parents rights to found a family (or not) to be respected, not just one parent...

    you also miss the point that achieving equality by discriminating against another group doesn't work.

    In 1865, women "got the vote" in South Australia, (and so did 85% of the men). It was previously based on wealth and land ownership - the change saw aboriginal people lose the vote, a situation that took more than 100 years to reverse.

    So Tammy, if we assume that your suggestions for change are successful and the big (and small) firms change their culture to be more accommodating to women, what happens when the client needs an urgent meeting or can only meet when their lawyer isn't available?

    My experience is that another lawyer will have to cover for them. The question then becomes why would the other lawyer do that for the same pay as they are getting and not get the same benefits.

    As i said above, I changed jobs from a 60-70 hour week to 40-45 and i expect a pay difference because of that - not because i am a woman or because i have/had child caring responsibilities. Not everything that happens must naturally be because of discrimination and/or because your a woman.

  • Anon female on 6/07/2015 9:59:46 AM

    I was naive to the inequalities. Now being 5 years PQE I have seen it first hand (not re me, I have no children yet). At my previous 'boutique' firm there was a female SA who had consistently been the top biller in the firm (counting both Sydney and Melbourne offices). Clients and colleagues alike loved her and she was excellent at her job.

    She has been at the firm nearly 10 years and has been an SA for 5.

    This female made the grave mistake of taking 6 months leave to have a baby. Upon her return, the managing partner (and the partner of the group she worked for) gave her a hard time when she required the occasional day off (maybe 2 in a month - god forbid!), even though she worked from home those days. She has now been shipped off to work in-house at a client for 6 months (no one wanted this role so the managing partner ordered that she do it).

    Promotions have just been announced. A male who has not made budget in at least the last 2 financial years, who has been an SA for less time than this female and who is NOT respected at all by his colleagues and whose direct supervising partner did not think he was ready for a promotion, has been promoted to partner. The female wasn't even considered, and I highly doubt she will be now that she is a mother.

    It has caused a lot of disharmony in the firm but the male management team don't give a toss. And they wonder why people are leaving the firm in droves!

  • Tammy on 6/07/2015 2:30:05 PM

    Scott, thank you for your polite response.

    I don't believe that, at its core, I have misrepresented your argument. You maintain that women in fact have far more advantages than men and it is the men who are disadvantaged by all the benefits that are given to women (eg: your comments re: elective terminations of pregnancies, which I note are still unlawful in several jurisdictions) - at its core, being a "what about the men?" argument. I grant you that there are real issues in relation to reproductive rights that will not be solved by either of us in this forum, but conflating reproductive rights with workplace discrimination is specious.

    The examples you cite re: holding doors open and being abused are not examples of systemic discrimination against men but rather examples of ill-mannered individual women, not a representation of all women. I suggest that most women would find such behaviour unbecoming and would support men *and* women exercising thoughtful behaviour and the recipients having, and exercising, grace and maturity in their responses. One or several women being mean to you does not a case for systemic discrimination make.

    In relation to the issue you raise about a client needing to be attended to after hours, I can only say that the firm I work for values work-life balance and no-one (man or woman) is expected to work after hours. The client can only own you if your firm's culture permits it. Before you argue that firms who do not allow clients to dictate in this way will go the way of the Dodo, I add that the firm I work for is thriving and not losing any business. I suggest therefore that this is *still* not an issue of men vs. women, but an issue of firm culture needing to accommodate their staff's needs - whether they have children or not.

    If you feel that men are being systemically discriminated against – and as an example, I would point towards men not being given any real opportunities to take paternity leave, or the opportunities to leave early to pick up kids or stay home when a kid is sick; all technically available to men on paper but not in practice – I support you in seeking change. However I do not believe that the way to effect this is to shut down any discussion on the discrimination faced by women (which is what an argument of “what about the men?” does), and refuse to consider anything that would go towards changing firm culture because women allegedly have it so much better than men. As I said before, it is not a zero sum game, and removing the barriers for women does not take anything away from the men. I think that there are changes that need to be made for the benefit of men also –can you agree that in this specific context, there are changes that need to be made for women too?

  • Scott on 7/07/2015 10:10:44 PM

    Tammy,

    I agree that we will not change the world and that perhaps to some issues there are no answers, but concentrating on disadvantages for women while ignoring other disadvantages isn't the way forward. The "what about men" comment was not about trying to shut down the argument - but asking you to consider your own approach.

    The discrimination of women based on child caring responsibilities can be changed - and women have the power to change it - create equality by having 50% of single parent households headed by men - easy and employers could then not discriminate because men would be just as likely to end up caring for the kids after separation - is this something you would be willing to give up?

    If you think no woman would, you need to consider women like princess mary, princess kate etc who have... the fairy tale has a price.

    while i was abused by a woman who was just plain rude, it was the attitude of those around me and society in general that i was trying to point out - it seems more acceptable to treat men poorly as a sign that a woman is empowered, tough, etc rather than acceptance that we just have a role reversal and the abuse/ discrimination continues.

    just because you are part of a group that claims to be a victim - does not mean that you are not able to also be a perpetrator.

    As for the work life balance - people are working longer and irregular hours - how are they going to access legal services if their lawyers only work 9-5 or 9-3?

    I work in a small office (2 lawyers) - we often meet with clients before 9 and after 5 because that is the only time they can see us - while we resist weekend appointments, sometimes it is the only time available...

    so which benefits of a gendered society are you willing to give up? noting that the benefits for women are the disadvantages for men and vise versa - ie a zero sum game

    Do you still expect a man to be a gentleman? if so can you really say you want equality? how do you explain the contradiction of wanting the best of both worlds?

  • William on 10/07/2015 4:54:47 PM

    Tammy states:

    “Oh dear, it appears that the argument is becoming "if there is inequality in the workplace it is the fault of women [insert broad-brush statement about women = fundamentalist feminists who are discriminating against men]".

    The term “fundamentalist feminists” is not a broad brushed statement including all women nor does it include all feminists. If you refer to all my previous submissions to this blog I have used three feminists writings to support my case; the latest is Ms Wilkinson who indicates quite clearly that she is a feminist. In addition, not all women are feminists.

    At this stage, unlike Louise and Zoe, there has been no-one that has stated that the inequality is the fault of “women”. There is certainly blame on the fundamentalist feminists who have used strategies of the critical legal school and have an anti-men and anti-child approach.

    Tammy states:

    “What should women be "giving up" to achieve equality? Isn't the entire point of this article that women are already disadvantaged by virtue of their gender, and your solution is that they "give up" more in order to be taken seriously?”

    The whole point of this article is about parental leave and the taking of it. It is not equality for women alone to have parental leave.

    To choose to be a parent is not the fault of the employer it is a clear choice of men and women. Like all choices it has its advantages and disadvantages for both parents. In my view, being a parent has much more advantages than disadvantages and in any case, whatever the disadvantages, parenthood is much better to have than a career.

    I draw your attention to the recent advertisements on TV where a disabled man indicates that his greatest disability is that he does not have a choice. Tammy on the other hand appears to be seeking some kind of reimbursement from employers because she has chosen to be a mother.

    Tammy states:

    “This is not constructive towards changing the culture of large (and in my experience, small) law firms insofar as it pertains to women. Changing the culture to be less hostile to women is not mutually exclusive with changing the culture to accommodate the needs of men also - it is NOT a zero sum game!”

    Tammy has failed to make any submissions to support her view that it is "NOT a zero sum game!"

    It is submitted that Tammy’s view is wrong in law. It is quite clear that treating someone different amounts to discrimination. Therefore all employees and their workplace benefits are related in workplace collective bargaining. To provide a mother the benefit of parental leave and then preclude anyone who isn’t a mother from the same benefit amounts to employment discrimination.

    Dialogue on parental leave requires the full range of discussion of all employees including males.

    It could be argued that when a person takes parental leave then that benefit should cause a readjustment in favour of the firm or in favour of those that don’t take parental leave. Why should a women (or man) take a benefit (parental leave) that is not compensated for and others are then to be unrewarded? (Note: I am in favour of parental leave for both parties because it is advantageous for the child)

    The culture in firms to reduce hostility needs to include as an imperative an education system for women to stop bullying others. Clearly demonstrated by the figures provided in a University of New England study revealing that in the female dominated teaching profession (88% are women) there are 98% of teachers who have been bullied.

    Tammy states:

    “It is not a Zero Sum Game”

    In collective bargaining in the workplace it certainly is a zero sum game. All employees are entitled to the same benefits and the awards are not separated into special benefits for women and men.

    If there is bargaining on a one-on-one basis, then the individual can negotiate anything to his or her heart's desires e.g. parental leave, masseurs, weekly bunch of roses etc.

    It is clear that the intent of Tammy and her referral to the use of the “zero sum game” is to deny men a right to make approaches to an employer and thereby stifle a dialogue where men can include their own views on the matter. This is NOT a woman only matter.

    Tammy states:

    “I suggest that most women would find such behaviour unbecoming and would support men *and* women exercising thoughtful behaviour and the recipients having, and exercising, grace and maturity in their responses. One or several women being mean to you does not a case for systemic discrimination make.”

    Most women don't support men; the incivility and discourtesy of Louise and Zoe was not referred to by other women on this blog.

    In any case, I can remember a particularly nasty period during the sixties and seventies when women abused men as male chauvinist pigs. I can remember as a ten year old standing up in a bus for women and then being abused particularly by the younger university student fundamentalist feminists. They took up the abuse strategy as a whole; it was not an odd woman here or there; it was a movement. In support, even Lisa Wilkinson refers to the abuse that women received from that lot when women chose not to take on a career instead choosing to be mothers. (More recently attacks had been made on women who chose to wear the Muslim garb).

    Tammy’s submission seeks to undermine and diminish men’s contributions.



    Tammy states:

    “In relation to the issue you raise about a client needing to be attended to after hours, I can only say that the firm I work for values work-life balance and no-one (man or woman) is expected to work after hours. The client can only own you if your firm's culture permits it. Before you argue that firms who do not allow clients to dictate in this way will go the way of the Dodo, I add that the firm I work for is thriving and not losing any business. I suggest therefore that this is *still* not an issue of men vs. women, but an issue of firm culture needing to accommodate their staff's needs - whether they have children or not.”

    Tammy has forgotten that many firms cater to poor clients who can’t take time off work so they have odd hours. There is one firm in Liverpool that has done this as the area has a high ratio of socio-economically disadvantaged people. In addition, I guess Tammy has forgotten that there are lawyers who attend hospitals at all kinds of hours to ensure that critically injured people get their documentation. Then there are the pro bono lawyers who do work for others to assist....etc.

    Tammy states:

    "However I do not believe that the way to effect this is to shut down any discussion on the discrimination faced by women (which is what an argument of “what about the men?” does)”

    This statement is clearly designed to deprive men of their voice. Yes, men are entitled to put their own views forward because the granting of benefits to women affects men.
    The suggestion by Tammy that somehow it “shuts down any discussion on the discrimination faced by women” is unreasonable as it contextualises the remedy.

    I draw your attention a maxim of equity: “whosoever wants equity should do equity”. In other words the person who wants to stop discrimination against his or her group should also not discriminate against the other group.

    Tammy states:

    "However I do not believe that the way to effect this is to shut down any discussion on the discrimination faced by women (which is what an argument of “what about the men?” does), and refuse to consider anything that would go towards changing firm culture because women allegedly have it so much better than men. As I said before, it is not a zero sum game, and removing the barriers for women does not take anything away from the men. I think that there are changes that need to be made for the benefit of men also –can you agree that in this specific context, there are changes that need to be made for women too?"

    It is submitted that this is a "zero sum game" as the provision of benefits to one group by an employer certainly affects others outside of that group.

    For instance, those folk who don't take parental leave are required to deal with the leavers' clients and engage in all the complex issues with a client. A tough ask to start all over again. The non-leaver's dedication to a firm should also be rewarded. Furthermore, the costs that are somehow passed onto a client because there needs to be time taken to understand the client's needs and issues when the leaver has gone can be costly in terms of the quality of services, delays and other.
    When couples choose to have a child it is common knowledge that they will sacrifice time with the firm to be with the child. The leavers availability is an important issue.

  • Nikita Robertson on 13/07/2015 10:05:30 AM

    The problem I see here is that there is a view that parental leave is some kind of reward instead of a fundamental human right. William goes as far as to say "a non-leavers dedication to the firm should be rewarded". I find this nonsensical; if Joe gets the flu and has to have 5 days off work should Jane be rewarded for not getting the flu? If Sam's mother dies and he needs a weeks bereavement leave should the employees who don't need bereavement leave be rewarded? Of course not. Persumably we all agree that having children is necessary for the survival of the human race and people being people WILL keep pro-creating, so instead of pretending it doesn't happen or taking the view that having children is like deciding to go on a cruise society needs to accept that Human Beings Have Children and adjust the work place to accommodate, after all, its being going on for quite a long time now.
    As a footnote, yes there is a HUGE sexist component to why the workplace hasn't yet adjusted to accommodate parental leave; its because historically women have either not worked or been the ones to take leave on the birth of a child; in other words, it didn't overly effect men so nothing needed to be put in place to ensure parental leave wasn't damaging to the leaver's career.

  • Pat on 13/07/2015 10:08:01 PM

    Nikkita could you please explain as to why parental leave is a fundamental human right and further as to why a third party, being your employer, should suffer financial losses as a result of your personal decisions and be forced to retain your position for you.

  • Nikita Robertson on 14/07/2015 1:29:33 PM

    Pat, because having children is a fundamental human right and people who chose to do so should not be discriminated against. The flowon from having children is looking after them properly, you can't have one without the other. You should be able to have children and look after them without discrimination. If the outcome of taking parental leave is the 'kiss of death' to your promotional chances this is discrimination. If having children were a hobby your argument would be faultless but it isn't, its a fundamental part of being human and should be regarded as such. Employers should factor in parental leave costs as part of the ordinary costs of running a business, just as they factor in ordinary leave, sick leave etc. A parallel which springs to mind is these days companies have to factor in the costs of adhering to environmental legislative requirements - a huge added expense which didn't exist 20 or 30 years ago. All the arguments were the same about that, the expense would be crippling and you would destroy industry. Yet (most) industry has survived and even if some haven't, very few people think these added responsibilities aren't justified.

  • Pat on 14/07/2015 9:11:24 PM

    Nikkita I suggest that few would argue that to have children is a human right however that is different to the issue of parental leave being a "fundamental human right'
    I would also ask you to consider the effect on our manufacturing industries which are now virtually non existentent due to our political and legislative environment before you make sweeping statements regarding the state of Australian business.
    I have not provided any argument supporting or disputing the issues being discussed. You have not answered either of my questions other than it appears to say that your decision to have children should not effect you at all but it is ok to effect a third party.

  • Nikita Robertson on 15/07/2015 12:07:02 PM

    No - o I answered both your questions; my first answer was the thing about the human race and the second answer was the enivronmental law analogy. And yes, I think the decision to have children should not effect you at work but should be a cost borne by your employer. I guess it comes down to our differing beliefs - I believe having children is a fundamental human right and you do not: I believe employers should bear the costs of parental leave and you do not. I'm not going to change your beliefs and you're not going to change mine!

  • william on 17/07/2015 10:37:50 AM

    Nikita Robertson States:

    “The problem I see here is that there is a view that parental leave is some kind of reward instead of a fundamental human right. William goes as far as to say "a non-leavers dedication to the firm should be rewarded".”

    Nikita still hasn’t still haven’t explained how parental leave is some kind of human right

    “ I find this nonsensical; if Joe gets the flu and has to have 5 days off work should Jane be rewarded for not getting the flu? If Sam's mother dies and he needs a weeks bereavement leave should the employees who don't need bereavement leave be rewarded? “

    Your references to the sick pay issues are not good evidence in support. These conditions are available to all people in the workplace. Parental leave is not. It is intended to be available to only some; you might read the bloggists arguing for the zero sum game who would even exclude fathers from parental leave.

    You might find better support in terms of “special leave” e.g. athlete going to attend sport meeting.

    Nikita states:

    “Persumably we all agree that having children is necessary for the survival of the human race and people being people WILL keep pro-creating, so instead of pretending it doesn't happen or taking the view that having children is like deciding to go on a cruise society needs to accept “

    Please can the feminists stop with the defamation – “so instead of pretending it doesn't happen or taking the view that having children is like deciding to go on a cruise society needs to accept” The inference is that the opposing view is not being realistic. I don’t know anybody that is pretending that it doesn’t happen…

    The issue in parental leave is whether a boss should pay for it and that other workers are disadvantaged by the choice of another. Not all people have children and I understand that not all couples have children is also a plain fact of life.

    Furthermore, everybody, including single people, by taxes already assists families: family payments by government, schools, hospitals all are used for the sake of children.

    “As a footnote, yes there is a HUGE sexist component to why the workplace hasn't yet adjusted to accommodate parental leave; its because historically women have either not worked or been the ones to take leave on the birth of a child;”

    It is submitted, that it is not sexist for employers to argue the case for not paying a benefit on the basis of someone else’s personal choices.

    (The fundamentalist feminists in this blog wish to treat these things as “strict liability” - the action is sexist merely because the action was done. This clearly is wrong; it is a strategy designed to avoid the hard question of whether or not something is sexist. Clearly as sexism involves a mental element of malice there is a need to establish a mens rea. The feminists want to avoid that issue.)

    Women have chosen for a long time to be mothers in preference to careers. This changed not because of men’s demands but because of the unrelenting abuse by feminists of women who chose motherhood.

    Nikita States:

    “ in other words, it didn't overly effect men so nothing needed to be put in place to ensure parental leave wasn't damaging to the leaver's career.”

    Clearly it does overly affect men, husbands particularly are affected when the wife no longer earns an income; therefore the income burden rested upon the shoulders of the man. The majority of men get married.

  • William on 18/08/2015 12:17:53 PM

    Much of this discussion was corrupted by the defamatory approach of the fundamentalist feminists who only saw an opportunity to launch hate speech against men.

    Nevertheless, there remains the important issue of parental leave and how it might be achieved.

    I draw your attention to the high increase in senior executive salaries that are so out of touch with the norm. It s clear that the money that could be thrown at the problem is available if senior executives were not paid so much and were paid a proportionate amount for their participation. (none of them are worth the 130 fold increase in their wages.).

    Most people have heard of the slogan "United we stand; Divided we fall". It is clear that the implosive attacks on non-senior executives against other non-senior executives has provided an opportunity for the steep pay rises that they have received.

    rather than by divided by fundamentalist hate speech against men, lets unite in the outrage against the pay rises of the senior executives and demand a more equitable share of the pie.

    Its is clear that the denial of parental leave is advantageous to the senior executives as it provides them with more income.

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